Five games to play with your baby and toddler

Watching moving objects exercises the little muscles of the eyes.
Watching moving objects exercises the little muscles of the eyes.

Occupational Therapist, Liz Senior & Founder of the Clamber Club provides some ideas to help you have fun with your baby while you stimulate his physical and mental development.

1. Younger baby 

Game: Look with your eyes

What you will need:

Balls or Cars 

What to do

Lie your baby on his tummy, propped up under his chest if he is not yet able to prop himself up with his arms. Take the ball or car and tap it, making sure that it catches your baby’s eye.

Roll or push it across his visual field from left to right, making sure that he is watching it as it moves across his visual field. Now roll it towards him and then away from him so that he watches it coming closer and then moving further away.

Why?

Watching moving objects exercises the little muscles of the eyes

Visual tracking is when your baby watches an object move from side to side, up and down, in a circular motion or diagonally Focusing is practised when your baby watches objects come closer or when they move further away.

2. Older baby

Game: Finger games What you will need

The cut-out cardboard of one side of a cereal box

What to do

Take your cardboard and cut a few small holes in the centre of it - big enough for your baby to push his pointer finger through it.

Draw pictures around each hole, for example, an elephant head where the hole is for the trunk/ finger to go through. Show your baby how to put his finger through the hole and wiggle it.

Why?

To promote body awareness

To isolate and strengthen the pointer finger movement. This finger is important for many fine motor activities, including manipulation of toys, writing and drawing.

3. Younger toddler

Game: Touch it!

What you will need

Cold jelly Warm, sloppy, cooked spaghetti in a bit of water Butterscotch pudding Maizena in a bit of water To be in a ”Happy to get messy” frame of mind!

What to do

Take each ingredient out one at time and place on a plastic table. Encourage your toddler to feel and taste the different textures and temperatures.

Try body painting with the butterscotch, squeeze the maizena and see how it melts in your hands, and make patterns with the spaghetti.

Why?

To stimulate the sense of touch and taste. Feeling different textures helps to develop a more accurate sense of touch.

A healthy tactile system has a positive effect on your toddler's body awareness, affects his ability to motor plan, promotes visual discrimination, emotional security and academic learning.

4. Older toddler

Game: Tupperware fun

What you will need

A collection of different sized Tupperware or empty ice cream containers with lids Ping pong balls Small cut out cardboard squares from a cereal box.

What to do

Build and stack – keep the lids on each. Tupperware box and build towers as high as you can, piling them on top of each other.

What else can you build?

Try tunnels, snakes, and houses Cut a hole in the lid of your ice cream container and get your toddler to post ping pong balls into it. If you cut a slit you can pretend you are the postman and post the cardboard square “letters” into the “post box”.

Why?

To promote spatial skills by working out how to post the ball and `letter’, eye-hand coordination, constructive play and basic mathematical skills.

5. Dad’s special game

Game: Cardboard box car

What you will need

A cardboard apple box

What to do

Use an apple box as a car. Tie some rope onto the handle, get your older baby or toddler to sit in it, and voom! Off we go as dad pulls. This works best on smooth floors and works very well to entice resistant toddlers to bed by “car”!

Why?

Riding in the boxcar promotes balance and equilibrium.

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